Libertarian State Leadership Alliance
Government Sought Names of Book Buyers
Two decades ago, far before the cancerous growth of our national insecurity state, the Arizona branch of the Drug Enforcement Agency subpoenaed stores, demanding the names of people who bought certain books, reported the Associated Press. The AP quoted agent Al Reilly: "If I have to subpoena people, I will," he said. "If I have to get in peoples' faces, I will."
At least 30 businesses selling plant-growing equipment were subpoenaed for information on their Arizona customers, reports the Tribune, a suburban Phoenix newspaper. The DEA wanted businesses to list everyone who bought legal products, such as lights and fertilizer, in the past two years. Do you grow orchids with hydroponics? If you live in Arizona, the government wanted to know who you are.
The pretext for the search, which unfairly targets thousands of law-abiding citizens, is a search for marijuana growers. The Phoenix DEA has uncovered fewer than two dozen such growers in five years.
According to AP reports, the DEA caused a furor when it subpoenaed the a Tempe gardening store to learn who bought the book "Marijuana Hydroponics: High Tech Water Culture." The book's publisher, Beverly Potter of Berkeley CA, refused to release names of purchasers. The DEA backed off when confronted with the demand that they produce the Constitutionally-mandated subpoena to support their request.
The Drug Enforcement Agency refused to apologize for its tactics, which it claims are justified because the information could be a starting point for further investigations of possible marijuana growers. The Agency dismisses claims that the subpoenas violate the First Amendment.